Protecting Nature’s Legacy: Charles Waterton’s Nature Reserve Now Protected by Historic England

Waterton Park Added to Heritage List as World’s First Nature Reserve

Waterton Park, a nature reserve located near Wakefield on the family estate of Charles Waterton, has been added to Historic England’s protected register of parks and gardens. The park, created by naturalist Charles Waterton in the 19th century, is believed to be the world’s first nature reserve.

Waterton banned hunting and fishing on the grounds and built a boundary wall to keep out predators, making it the first known example of a landscape designed to protect wildlife. He planted new trees and undergrowth cover and created new habitats for native birds. Part of the lake was allowed to become swampy for the benefit of herons and waterfowl. As a result of his work, he recorded 5,000 wildfowl on the lake during one winter and noted 123 bird species in the park over the years.

Charles Waterton was a visionary who recognized the importance of protecting wildlife and promoting harmony between nature and humanity. He actively encouraged people to visit the park to connect with their surroundings. Sarah Charlesworth, listing team leader for Northern England, praised Waterton as a pioneer in creating a prototype for modern nature reserves where wildlife and humans can coexist for their mutual benefit.

John Smith, chair of the Friends of Waterton’s Wall, expressed hope that the new status of the park and wall would bring Waterton’s life and work to a wider audience both locally and nationally. The recognition of Waterton Park as a historically significant site celebrates his efforts to protect wildlife and promote harmony between nature and humanity.

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